Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez came through a playoff against his countryman Alejandro Cañizares and Francesco Molinari of Italy to win the Alstom Open de France at Le Golf National in Paris.
The veteran Spaniard began the final round two adrift of overnight leader Martin Kaymer of Germany but, aided by five birdies on the first seven holes of his back nine, Jiménez found himself with a two-shot lead coming down the 72nd hole.
With Kaymer struggling behind, the tournament was in the hands of Jiménez. A bogey would have been enough for victory but, from the middle of the fairway, the 46-year-old did the unthinkable. He mis-hit his approach shot and came up short in the water.
After taking a drop, his fourth shot barely clung on to the front edge of the green and he could do no better than a six. That meant he finished on 11-under-par, tied with Francesco Molinari who had already completed his final round.
Cañizares then had a putt on the last green to take the title outright but it narrowly missed and he joined Molinari and Jiménez at the top of the leaderboard on 11-under.
When the players in the final group, Kaymer and England’s Steve Webster, failed to match the total of Jiménez, Cañizares and Molinari, the Spaniards and the Italian headed back to the treacherous 18th hole to settle the tournament.
Although Jiménez must have been feeling the stress after giving away a cast-iron chance of victory, he showed no signs of it as he calmly stroked his tee shot down the fairway. Molinari found a bunker on the right before Cañizares hooked his drive into the water.
When Cañizares put his third shot into the water short of the green he was effectively out of the running. Molinari then splashed out of the bunker to leave a full shot in.
Perhaps with his poor effort on the 72nd hole in mind, Jiménez played a nervy approach well left of the green leaving a tricky pitch.
The catalogue of errors continued as Molinari over-hit his pitch to the green into a bunker. Jiménez pitched on to 15 feet then Molinari flopped out of the sand to about the same distance. The Italian went first and gustily holed his putt for a five meaning Jiménez had a putt for a par and victory. He duly rolled it home to secure the title and a cheque for €500,000.
With the win Jiménez has climbed into the top-35 on the Official World Ranking, the top-10 in the race to Dubai and into and automatic qualifying spot for the Ryder Cup. It’s a great day for Spanish sport as, just an hour earlier, Rafael Nadal had secured his second Wimbledon title.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy finished alone in fourth place with young Danny Willett of England in fifth.
Alstom Open de France
Le Golf National, Paris, France
Jul 1-4, purse €3,000,000, par 71
1 Miguel Angel Jiménez (Esp) 69 69 68 67 273 €500,000
T2 Alejandro Cañizares (Esp) 66 66 73 68 273 €260,400
T2 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 69 69 68 67 273 €260,400
4 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 68 71 69 66 274 €150,000
5 Danny Willett (Eng) 72 67 69 68 276 €127,200
T6 Oliver Wilson (Eng) 68 71 71 67 277 €79,440
T6 Mark Foster (Eng) 76 63 70 68 277 €79,440
T6 Peter Hanson (Swe) 68 69 70 70 277 €79,440
T6 Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 68 69 70 70 277 €79,440
T6 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 66 67 71 73 277 €79,440
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only